NEW YORK -AP- Aaron Judge hit his 44th home run, Aroldis Chapman pitched out of big trouble in the eighth inning and the New York Yankees edged the Minnesota Twins 2-1 on Monday night to increase their AL wild-card lead.
Todd Frazier hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Jaime Garcia gave the Yankees a splendid performance against the team that traded him this year after only one start. New York, still chasing first-place Boston in the AL East, won the opener of a three-game series that could serve as a potential postseason preview two weeks from now.
The Yankees have built a five-game cushion for the league's top wild card with 12 to play. Minnesota is in the second spot, 1 1/2 games ahead of the idle Los Angeles Angels. So if the standings hold, New York will host the Twins in the one-game playoff on Oct. 3.
Chapman replaced a wild Dellin Betances with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth. The left-hander struck out three-time batting champion Joe Mauer, who hit a grand slam Sunday, and retired No. 3 hitter Byron Buxton on an easy fly, needing only four pitches that all reached at least 100 mph.
Chapman then worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 19th save in 23 chances. It was his third career regular-season save that required at least five outs -- and first since August 2013 with Cincinnati. The fireballing closer also had one in the World Series last year for the Chicago Cubs.
Judge homered to right-center in the first off hard-luck loser Ervin Santana (15-8), who won his previous four decisions. The All-Star righty gave up seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
David Robertson (9-2) retired all four hitters he faced, improving to 5-0 since the Yankees reacquired him from the Chicago White Soxin July.
Garcia struck out five of his first six batters and did not permit an earned run in 5 2/3 innings. He finished with nine strikeouts, equaling a season high.
Garcia was traded by Minnesota to the Yankees in late July, one day after a 6-3 win at Oakland in his lone start for the Twins -- the team's only victory during an eight-game stretch. They had acquired the veteran lefty from Atlanta to reinforce their rotation, but quickly moved him again before the non-waiver deadline when that short-lived slump dropped them in the standings and below .500.
Frazier made a diving stop at third base on an RBI groundout by Robbie Grossman in the fifth that tied it 1-all. Garcia then got Jason Castro to ground into an inning-ending double play.
LEFTY LIST
CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.85 ERA) starts Tuesday night for the Yankees on seven days' rest. He needs one strikeout to match Mickey Lolich (2,832) for third place all-time among left-handers. Sabathia is 2-0 with a 3.14 ERA in five starts since returning last month from a brief stint on the DL due to right knee inflammation.
EASY WAY ON
Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury reached on catcher's interference for the fifth time this season, extending his major league record to 31 times in his career. Ellsbury, on a recent tear at the plate, also singled, stole two bases and was intentionally walked.
 

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